Hello, I'm glad you're here, and hope you enjoy your visit. It has been said that "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." This blog is about me, my adventures, silly moments, and keeping in touch with you. Life is exciting and so full of possibilities, so let's enjoy the journey together.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Computer HiJacked - literally

today I am taking a break from my Trek Through Yellowstone  . . . a series of posts about my Yellowstone Excursion last summer.

This blog ordinarily is a photo based blog, but not today.  In fact I am posting this from my cell phone, and is pretty much all business. 

. . . See my computer was literally hijacked and wss taken as hotage on Saturday afternoon. 
A simple click that took a microsecond to perform, has changed my life indefinitely.
I'm certain you are curious how such a tragedy came to happen. . .
So here is the sad and tragic tale

I was attempting to look at a blog that I have been following for the past few months. Having asked a question in her comment section a couple of weeks ago I was hoping she had responded.

. . . it was an older post, as in a couple of years older, which means comments are not seen as readily, so it was expected not to see an immediate response. In fact the previous commenter to mine from the same post was made in January this year, took a few weeks for her to respond, so I wasn't worried or in a hurry, just curious. . . simple as that.

As I opened up said blog page within a second or so the page font became unreadable with a font that made no sense, sort of like a bunch of wing-dings, but even more indiscernible, at this point I was greeted with a message that my computer didn't have the font necessary to view her blog

. . . interesting I thought to myself . . .  she must have been doing some redesigning and conveniently provided the link for the font I needed. . . and dutifully followed the prompt.

bad Bad BAD Horrible BAD

life altering moment

It opened her blog just fine, she hasn't responded yet and so I moved on to other things, which included opening a work sheet to prepare for our budget pow-wow later that evening that Superman and I have every month.

to my alarm it wouldn't open.

I tried a different file . . . same thing, I was told the extension was wrong and it couldn't be accessed.  I tried a few other documents in other programs all giving me the same response.  I went to my dropbox folder again giving the same result.

Long story short . . .

my computer had been overtaken with malware, ransomware, cryptowear and everything horrible. 
they. . . the evil and conspiring creeps behind this have effectively, and successfully I might add, made every file and document inaccessible. . . period.
yup, I have nothing left.

With their evil deed they removed the "restore to an earlier date" function.  Superman being, well Superman, and tech savvy, couldn't find the root, couldn't delete the program/file and quickly discovered that every computer in our home connected to the network was being infected and that my computer had inadvertently become "the host", with everything being re-routed  back to my computer.

He quickly quarantined my computer and took it of the network.  He uses Linux, and so his work station was okay. . .

tech stuff here: Unlike Windows . . . Linux and Mac's aren't vulnerable to maladies such as this. . .  apparently they use the same framework and Windows uses its own platform.

Anyway, because his workstation was still stable, he got on-line for solutions, found some anti-virus software specifically for how my  problem began that quickly turned to our nightmare. 

One quickly popped up.

we purchased it.  $29.95 plus an extra added charge we didn't ask for, totalling to $79.00, that was weird, nonetheless, desperate too control this beast, we proceeded forward.  Once the newly acquired software was installed we disconnected from the internet to prevent further intrusion and let it chug away. 

It was a slow process and in the end they said we had 421 affected files. . . however when we went to remove those files the program crashed. . . In other words, it didn't work.  2nd attempt, still no-go.  Okay, perhaps it needs online access so one more time only connected. . . no difference.
More research on the safe Linux computer. . . We discovered the software we purchased was being supplied by the very people who created the problem in the first place!  I had effectively downloaded what they call "ransomware" . . . basically when your computer is held hostage then the jerks collect more money from you with a promise to fix the problem THEY started in the first place.

We had been working on this all afternoon and it's now 11:30 pm.  the reality of what this has done to or lives became overwhelming.

I called all our kids and warned them so they wouldn't have this happen too them.  We then changed passwords and log-in Info on all financial accounts and a few extras such as Amazon and ebay.  We also filed a dispute claim with the bank not to release funds to these people.

Bed brought short sleep as I awoke at 4:00 AM and realized that while what we had done was good, we needed to do more and cancel our cards.  Superman woke shortly after me and agreed.  at 4:20 AM, we were cancelling all credit and debit cards.

As I hung up from one card provider he told me thank you for calling and wished me a good evening 

. . . I was beside myself and didn't have a response

 . . . My life had been dumped out on it's head

 . . . I'm on the phone at 4:30 AM cancelling cards . . .



Me, I wasn't impressed, flattered, or consoled.

Superman found some good software for $19.95 and we started over. 

It was chugging away and in half the time it took the previous software to "find issues and concerns" we were making progress.  Further digging through the deep files that only someone with serious computer knowledge. . . as in programming know-how would understand. . .

He was looking in that little black screen with lines and lines of code and other stuff and was digging deeper for any remaining threads of this monster.  He found several threads but also discovered that this had originated from Russian origins. 

This wasn't looking good.

Last night I realized that all my tax info along with my kids tax info was now in their possession as well.  We used Turbo tax for years and all those files were "stored" on this computer. . . These files also included direct deposit info for banks ie: direct access to all our account info and SS numbers.
This morning I began with banks and was advised to close all acts and open new ones.  Done. 

there were two banks directly affected and both WITHOUT my prompting the conversation advised that we lock down SS numbers to protect our identity and credit.  So now we get to worry about that too.  This is for all of us.  After 2 hours at the first bank our little ballerina was bored out out of her head . . . do you blame her?  I don't . . . anyway she opted to go to the car and listen to music, much more entertaining than sitting in a bank office. . . she not only drained her phone battery and now had a dead phone, but managed to do the same for the car. . . fortunately the musician is local and came to our rescue, and even had a spare charging USB cable for an iphone. . . We were in business.  She sat in the car with it running to charge the battery while I went to bank #2 to begin the process of closing and re-opening acts there too.

I have accepted the reality that I will not recover any files from my computer, and am not happy about that. . . This monster cleaned out our back-up disk through the network too. . .

I have accepted the fact that our identity may be at risk as well. 

I feel terrible that my kids have been sucked into this mess as a result of me, myself, and I . . . simply wanting to check something on-line.

While this invasion will undoubtedly change how I do things in the future such as . . .

1.  keep a backup of files independent of the main computer. . . flash drives are an inexpensive solution
2.  DO NOT execute ANY file that you haven't sought out, and be cautious at that.
3. Install Linux or buy a mac.

I will let you know in a follow-up post where the tender mercies revealed themselves and how I found joy in this journey as it unfolded as an apparent nightmare. . . which it was and in many ways still is. 

but we undoubtedly had moments of goodness evolve in the process.

thanks for stopping by today and taking the time to listen to my tale

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Camping Out ~ What We Took With Us: Trek through Yellowstone- Part 3

If you missed the other posts about our adventure click here for Part 1 or here for Part 2
But for today,
please, oh please, don’t be upset! 

I know I said we would go to Mr. Bubbles today, but that will happen next week

it will be worth the wait, I promise

I have decided to talk to you about our hike in general first

Such as what are some key things you want to take with you. . .


This is my pack & hiking stick

fully loaded it weighed in at 38 pounds

Remember, you are literally packing EVERYTHING you need on your back so light weight is essential.  It is surprising how quickly things add to the weight on your back.

A general rule of thumb is that your pack should come in between 20-25% of your body weight . . .
Much of this depends on your own personal conditioning and fitness level. 

the lighter your pack the less fatigue you will experience feeling more nimble and cover the distance you intend to go much faster. 

In hindsight, there are a few things I took along that I would definitely leave behind next time
experience with a pack will definitely be on your side, if you are a first timer talk with someone with a lot of experience, or even better, begin with a couple of overnighter or simple two-day trips

 . . . I promise it will pay off in huge dividends!


Superman’s pack weighed in at 49 lbs

We split things up to equalize the weight out a bit, for example, we divided the tent and poles so he carried part of the weight and I packed the other half.

The genius was kind of on his own so he packed a super lightweight tent that was much smaller than ours.


Take with you a hat or some type of head covering

This will serve several purposes:

it keeps your head safe from sun burn and keeps bugs and other debris out of your hair.

By the end of a week without shower and shampoo it keeps bad hair day’s under concealment

a hat will keep the sun out of your eyes, reducing eye strain. . . I opted for sunglasses, which for me worked fine.

if you are traveling through brush it keeps your hair from getting tangled in the brush and trees.

a hat or head covering keeps hair out of your eyes.

If you stop to rest and want to close your eyes a hat will provide a shelter from the bright sunlight . . . and provides a built-in peaceful lights-out do not disturb sign.

I opted for a bandanna, and it worked great for me.

Superman choose a full-brim hat while the Genius had a basic ball cap style hat.

We all had sunglasses, and I would recommend you will have a pair of those too.

for daytime, sunglasses are the prescribed accessory and then you will want a headlamp for night-time activities

You will want loose fit, quick dry clothing that is minimally bulky.  I prefer darker colors and a tech tee – moisture wicking fabrics for tops with cotton pants that dry quickly.  Belts are needed but make sure they don’t sit in the same place as your pack rests. . . this is a recipe for painful blisters and extreme discomfort.


As you approach a group of campsites they were marked like this, when you find the number that was assigned to you on your backcountry permit, you can move in.


Some campsites came with instructions


and all came with directions to take care of important business

That too is a story for another day. . .


The first thing we did was set up the tents


Then the genius would take a nap

. . . even before eating
truth is, that’s what I wanted to do, but Superman was all business and everything had to be

just right. . . then we would make food


Even though Superman was super tired, food was more important to him than sleep. . .
he appeared to be solo in this priority

seriously. . . look at that tired face!
and I barely had energy to take pictures

DSC06246 DSC06248

I simply wanted to take a nap. . .

but Superman wins most of the time.

Backpacking food is definitely not 5-star cuisine,
but it fills up the tummy with nutrition and calories

backpacking foodmountain house backpacking food

(These images are from a google search)

The thing that makes these so great is because they are freeze-dried they are light and easy to pack and . . . for the most part . . . they are agreeable to the taste-buds

Simply boil water, pour, stir, let rest for 5-10 minutes and dinner is served!

if you are wondering which meals we liked best, feel free to ask because some are definitely better than others.

Like most everything else some brands are better than others, we happen to like the Mountain House brand the best. . . and they have a huge variety of meals.

But without doubt, I was more than happy to have real home-cooked food upon our return to civilization

frost top drive in 2

In fact we stopped for a big-ol-juicy hamburger on our way home


Saddly The picture we took of this little stop where we stuffed ourselves full with real cooked food. . . with the genius under the big mug has vanished, we can’t find it anywhere
so this image is from the internet as well.


Each campsite was spacious enough to be divided into three basic areas


"The kitchen", which is where ALL the cooking is done and the bear poles are located.  All of the campsites we stayed at had ready made seating

. . . we were grateful for that!


This particular campsite came with a hammock ready to go for a nap


"Sleeping quarters" . .

this should be obvious, this is where the tents go

We set up right on the lake shore of Shoshone Lake until Ranger Justin came along and told us we needed to move. . .

it turns out wild animals like to get to the water too, and we were potentially in their path. . .

we were totally stoked about this site!

. . . and NO FOOD whatsoever goes in the sleeping/tent area . . . this includes:
. . . gum,
I think you get the general idea

. . . NOTHING that is scented and will potentially
attract bears or other animals is permitted in the sleeping areas!

Someday you can ask the Genius how his pack ended up with
a hole in the bottom on one of his hikes from long ago


In other words,

if you spill food on your clothing it needs to go in the pack and up the bear pole

One of the most important orders of business is to get everything that has had any connection to food

MUST . . .

                                      I REPEAT

. . . IT MUST be lifted above the ground.


So take plenty of rope along to manage this task!


Each campsite has bear poles near by, but far enough from sleeping quarters that when bears or wolves come scouting you remain safe. . .

incidentally we had both visitors . . .

Out of curiosity we would take a limb and “sweep” the area underneath our bear poles then check it out first thing in the morning.  At two different campsites we stayed in, had visitors, and one of them showed tracks of both bear and wolf.


After a quick breakfast, usually hot oatmeal and cocoa, but we also brought Mountain House biscuits and gravy, and scrambled eggs for variety.   While they weren’t too bad and we would use them again, but probably not yummy enough that you would break one open for breakfast before school or anything like that.

good cook wear and stoves are essential to a backpacking trip. . . 

get one that has a self igniter on it

There are several different models to choose from, but after seeing how efficient and amazingly quick the model the Genius had, we are upgrading our system to the one like his.


I would also consider getting a food bag like the Genius had.  It kept all his smelly food stuffs Completely separate from everything else in his pack.  It was water-proof and kept everything in one convenient easy to find place.

Stuff in a pack tends to get jostled around from packing and unpacking each day.
Dishes only need to be simple and light weight.  A bowl (we used the same bowls as our plates too), you will want a simple cup, and a basic pot is all you will need or probably want and set of durable utensils . . .


I would not take plasticware, or cheap flimsy aluminum unless you want to risk eating your oatmeal with your fingers when they break apart and disintegrate, like Superman's cheapo set we picked up for 1.99 at the local hardware store in their camping section . . .    

These are titanium and well worth the expense! (about $20) We both have a set of these in our packs.

they meet the needs of a backpacker perfectly!

Keeping things clean and litter free is important for not only for your safety, but for those that will come behind you the following day.


A good water filter/pump is a must have item

virtually all drinking water comes straight from the rivers and lakes around you, so be prepared to filter or clean it so it’s safe to drink


The water was cool, delicious, and refreshing and was in abundant supply


If you decide to venture out on a backpacking trip

. . . another necessity is a hiking stick.

Find a sturdy stick that won’t bend when you lean on it, and that is about shoulder height, if not a wee bit taller, and one that is easy to grip with your hand. 

You will want . . . actually you will need to smooth the place where you will grip it with your hand with a pocket knife so it is comfortable to hold. 

                                   too fat is difficult,

too thin will be uncomfortable. 

Superman’s stick is on the short side of perfect for him and the genius replaced his with an upgraded model not too far into our journey. 

Mine was just right for me from the beginning.


My hiking stick was one we found on one of our practice hikes before we left.  Both the Genius and Superman found one as we went along.

I admit that at first it was a pain, but as we traversed the more technical terrain it became a most valuable companion. . .

ESPECIALLY for the river crossings!

there were a couple of crossings
that I doubt I would have stayed
upright without my walking stick buddy!


Take a compass and a map. . .

a good map with weatherproof coating.


actually, you should already have this, as it is needed to plan your hike.


your map needs to be durable for packing, repeated folding, unfolding, and being stuffed in pockets and packs, it needs to survive moisture and the general rigors of the trail.

We were constantly referencing our map for distance, direction, and reassurance

I also learned the value of a good compass, it doesn't need to be fancy, 
a simple compass will do the trick.

the Genius gave me orienteering lessons
that part was cool, I loved it!

I definitely need more practice and experience but at least I have the concept down now
that is a good thing!


While not as essential as some of the gear I have mentioned, like a hiking stick, or a backpack I would strongly recommend a sturdy pair of hiking boots!

These kept my feet dry, comfortable, and I felt stable walking on the uneven ground, over rocks and trees especially with upwards of 38 lbs on my back.


Bring a small camera!

With good battery life. . . 

cell phones won't last for a week when you are taking a hundred-plus pictures

Superman loves dead trees and it doesn’t seem to matter where we go if there is a dead tree, he will take a picture


Superman is 100% my man, and I would be sad without him in my life


. . . he is my best friend ever!

I LOVE my Superman!


When we needed a break. . .


We found a chair that suited us and sat down for lunch

. . . or just for a breather


or in some cases . . .

our packs became a comfortable recliner and

a full out nap was in order


This is how we really felt much of the time, especially on that 9 mile day that turned into 11 miles because of the Mr. Bubbles detour

but mostly backpacking was peacefully


hiking along the trail


with kooky conversation to entertain us


Listening for sounds in the forest . . .


enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of nature


watching for wildlife


Backpacking is hot and sweaty,


                                                            it is hard work,


                                                                                                      it is a blast!

Backpacking is a memory maker

it’s beautiful


it’s an adventure!


it’s something worth doing again and again. . .

Yellowstone is a BEAUTIFUL place our Heavenly Father Created for us to enjoy!